Travel like a local - Travel with Moment of Joy
Bangladesh offers an amazing slow traveling experience for young and old. Although, you need some guidance and prepare yourself very well before heading towards the airport.
Here are some general, simple and funny facts about Bangladesh.
Ten facts about Bangladesh
We start with Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Whenever you are arriving in Bangladesh, it will probably be in Dhaka. Although, there are also land borders, for example the Benapole border with India. But it is most likely you will visit or cross Dhaka at least once when traveling in Bangladesh.
Dhaka is located centrally in Bangladesh and with 7 million inhabitants in the city itself, it is a crowded place (to say the least!). A lot of villagers decide to move to Dhaka, to find better living conditions.
Boy sitting in the middle of the road in Dhaka.
Dhaka is a crazy city. And as a first impression, it can be quite intense. But as soon as you are used to it, you are ready to discover its culture, people, colours and activities. The city is very diverse from the traditional old town area to the new and economically developed center of Gulshan.
2) Enthusiasm and curiosity
Everyone wants to help you, in a somewhat overly excited way. Especially in the more rural places expect: a lot of selfie requests, staring, invitations for tea lunch or dinner, invitations to stay the night and spontaneous tours through the city or village offered by locals. Bangladeshi people will ask you: “Kon Desh?”, which means “from which country are you?”. English is not always understood and I sometimes experience some confusion about the names (The Netherlands is sometimes confused with New Zealand, Holland sometimes with Poland), but they are happy to see you anyway.
Boy and a dad, selling coconuts on the streets of a village in Bangladesh.
3) Amazing food culture and plenty of fresh food
You will quickly find out that food is very important in Bangladesh. With such sunny weather and soil (Bangladesh is a Delta, with plenty of nutritious soil), you can expect the whole year round fresh fruits from watermelon to jackfruit, mango to lychee. If you love fruit, this is the place to be! Always be careful with bacteries, so wash the fruit with bottled mineral water beforehand. If you love several kinds of meat, fish and vegetables, Bangladesh is an amazing place to be. Unfortunately, what is served in the local restaurants is not always a reflection of what the people eat back home. But still, you can eat in the restaurants perfectly. How to find a good restaurant? Follow the locals! They know where the food is fresh.
Local food (smashed fish, peanuts, sesame seeds, mustard) in a village in Bangladesh.
Are you blessed to experience a lunch or dinner at a local’s place? Expect the unexpected! By which we mean: every cooking skill will be shown, from vegetables, fruits, meat, fish or chicken dishes. It will be all there. Before finishing - and before you know it - your plate will be filled with more rice (bat) and dahl (lentils recipe). If you really can’t eat anymore, say: “Bass, bass” and put your hand over your plate. But be aware, Bangladeshi people are very excited, so whenever you look away, you might have an extra meal on your plate anyway. ;)
4) Delta country
Bangladesh is a delta country. With nearly 75% of its land underwater, Bangladesh has the largest river delta in the world (Ganges delta). The water in Bangladesh exists out of three main rivers, the Padma river (Ganges, coming from India), Jamuna river (originating from Tibet) and Meghna river (originating from Eastern India). All together they flow into the Bay of Bengal. Besides rivers, the wetlands (Haor) in the northeastern part and the mangrove forest in the southwestern part are very important ecosystems of the Delta country. If you are lucky, you can see for example the irrawaddy dolphins, or several kinds of fish. Furthermore, Bangladesh has 3 seaports, 22 river ports and it shares 54 rivers with neighboring countries Myanmar and India. Bangladesh is therefore called deservedly the Land of Rivers.
River in the spring season just outside of Kushtia.
During the monsoon the water level will be very high here.
Rickshaw is a local way to travel, mostly in the rural areas. It has gained popularity since 1919 in Chittagong and since 1930 in Dhaka. At the moment, it is the most used transport in the city and a lot of people earn their income as a Rickshaw puller (the person who cycles), Rickshaw staller (place where the rickshaws are being rented from), frame maker or Rickshaw art painter. The rickshaw is popular, probably because it is fast, and can easily go around traffic jams. It is not always the most comfortable transport, because of the air pollution or wobbly roads.
Around 80% of the Rickshaws are painted with Rickshaw art, a special kind of art existing out of flowers, animals, birds or Bollywood movie scenes. A romantic story about Rickshaws is that young couples often use the rickshaw during rainy days. Because of the roof you need to sit quite close to each other, cozy. Although, for me - a tall Dutch lady - to fit in the rickshaw under the roof can be quite uncomfortable ;)
Rickshaw in maintenance on the streets of Dhaka.
6) Sundarbans Mangrove Forest
Sundarbans Mangrove Forest, the complete opposite experience of Dhaka. So many wildlife and silent places (although, not fully silent, because of its lively and noisy wildlife). It is the largest Mangrove Forest of the world, and is mainly located in Bangladesh. Besides that, Bangladesh shares a part of the forest with India. The forest has a huge importance and is very strategically located. It reduces the impact of cyclones, which sometimes have their landfall in Bangladesh. The biodiversity is very diverse, and it is one of the rare places where you still can find the endangered Bengal tiger, Saltwater Crocodile and Indian python. It is only possible to visit the Sundarbans with an arranged trip, guided by locals and under the protection of a guard. Trips start from Khulna or Mongla.
Within the Sundarbans, Bangladesh.
7) Garments industry in Bangladesh - ‘Made in Bangladesh’
Check the label of your clothes right now! The chance that you wear a t-shirt or pant which says ‘Made in Bangladesh’ is quite present. Bangladesh holds one of the biggest garments industries in the world. It is responsible for 80% of the export of the country and
Unfortunately a lot of accidents are happening as well due to bad working conditions, and the labor is mostly done by the lower class society. Green factories are upcoming, which means luckily more eye for the working conditions and the environment.
Garments from Bangladesh.
8) Longest natural Sea Beach of the world - Cox’s Bazar
Did you know about the longest natural sea beach in the world? After the biggest delta and largest mangrove forest, Bangladesh has the longest natural sea beach in the world as well! With a stunning 120 km of sea beach, it runs all the way from Cox’s Bazar to Teknaf, located directly besides the Myanmar border. Some parts are more crowded than others. For example, in Cox's Bazar thousands of tourists visit the area yearly to enjoy the fresh breath of the sea wind. Further on you will find mostly locals who make a living as fishermen. With special nets they walk along the shore or with special wooden ships they sail the deep sea.
9) Wedding culture of Bangladesh
A wedding of at least 4 or 5 days, can you imagine? I think most people would already stress out by the thought of needing to organize one wedding day… In Bangladesh they do it big. With one day specially for the women, one day especially for the men, one pre-wedding day (Mehedi night), the wedding day itself and a reception.
10) Cricket in Bangladesh
Last but not least, cricket is the most important sports game in Bangladesh and it has surpassed football. When the national cricket team has a tournament going on, you will find a lot of locals hanging around at the tea stalls, watching the match all together. The Bangladeshi men’s team entered the international cricket council in 2000, and ever since
In 2014 the women’s team entered the international cricket council as well, and they are currently the champion of the Women’s Asian Cup!
You have an idea now about some facts of Bangladesh! Besides all these facts, Bangladesh is the country of smiles. Do you want to try it out? You are warmly welcome!
For more information about slow traveling in Bangladesh, make an appointment with us.
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